Didimus Jasoil 2010 narrow


Often the palm oil plantations are managed by contractors who pay low wages and promote child labour and slavery-like conditions.

Kelompok Pelita Sejahtera (KPS) (2007) reports a salary below the legal minimum wage of men and women workers in North Sumatra without adequate social protection. Appropriate protective clothing and tools are not provided, schools and health facilities are often too far away. In order to achieve the high production target and to avoid being hit by sanctions, the workers are often forced to bring their children and families to help with the work. Day labourers constitute about 70% of the labourers (Sawit Watch, 2012) on the plantations, receiving no employment contracts or social protection.

If labourers try to unite to combat the adverse working conditions, it is not uncommon for intimidation and wage cuts to follow. Labourers trying to stand up for their rights are often dismissed or imprisoned. Human rights defenders, such as NGOs or trade unions, are also threatened by arrests.

Due to the enormous expansion of palm oil monocultures, there is often no chance for the local population to find alternative employment outside the plantation. The enormous environmental impact caused by the monocultures destroys employment opportunities in other areas. For example, fishing or fish farming is no longer possible due to the massive use of pesticides. In addition, with the use of pesticides the health of people living in the region suffers, especially, of course, the plantation labourers. Periodically recurring and often devastating forest fires caused by slash-and-burn are a serious health threat to millions of people, including in the neighbouring countries Malaysia and Singapore.

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